Friday of the 1st Week of Advent

Let us look today at the Collect for Friday of the 1st Week of Advent.

This prayer was in the 1962 Missale Romanum and is taken from the ancient Gregorian Sacramentary.

Excita, quaesumus, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni,
ut, ab imminentibus peccatorum nostrorum periculis,
te mereamur protegente eripi,
te liberante salvari.

Rouse up Your might, we beseech You, O Lord, and come,
that, as You are protecting us, we may merit to be snatched away
from the menacing dangers of our sins
and, as You are freeing us, be saved.

Stir up your power, we pray, O Lord, and come,
that with you to protect us
we may find rescue
from the looming dangers of our sins,
and with you to set us free,
be found worthy of salvation.

I normally object to that whole "with" rendering of ablative absolutes. 

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  1. Joshua says:

    Ah, the collect for Advent Sunday (EF)! It’s been my constant companion all week in the Breviary (Advent ferias being always commemorated, even on the feast of the Immaculate Conception).

    I had wondered if it had made it unscathed into the ordinary form, but couldn’t remember from last year.

    Certainly it emphasises our need to be delivered from the wrath hanging over us due our sins, dangers only our coming Redeemer can save us from: which puts the kybosh on any silly notion that Advent isn’t penitential; Christianity of its nature is penitential, so long as we avoid Pelagianism, that underpinning sin of our age.

    It seems to be but a gloss on Ps 79:3b – “Excita potentiam tuam, et veni, ut salvos facias nos.” Could this oration have been originally used as a psalm-prayer?

    And what is its relation to that extra petition in the Litanies of the Saints during the Forty Hours’ Devotion:

    “Ab imminentibus periculis, Libera nos, Domine.” – ? (I suppose this petition is later; is it from the Ambrosian Rite? I think I read that somewhere; for the Quarant’ Ore arose at Milan before it reached Rome.)

  2. London Calling says:

    Ablatives absolute are just plain hard to translate into idiomatic English. I can still hear the drone of students slogging through the wars in Gaul: “Caesar having ordered the troops to cross the river, the soldiers …”

    What about using more nominal forms? A slightly looser translation (but faithful to the meaning, I hope) might be

    Stir up your power, O Lord, and come to us. We pray that under your protection we may be rescued from the looming dangers of our sins. We pray that through your liberation we may be worthy to be saved.

  3. Mary Conces says:

    I’ve been trying to be faithful to my Liturgy of the Hours this Advent. I[‘m pretty much and autodidact when it comes to this form of prayer, but I have tumbled to the fact that the “Prayer” ending each hour is the “Collect”.(I use Christian Prayer from Catholic Book Publishing Co. (1976). I can see why you aren’t bothering with the ICEL translations. As prayers in themselves, they’re OK, but compared with the real thing, they’re –what? thin? watered down? travesties?–maybe not as bad as that.
    Thanks for supplying food for mind and soul–even if I’m always a day or so late in getting to it.

    Mary Conces

  4. Petellius says:

    I don’t mind the “with” for the ablative absolute that much, but maybe that’s just because I’ve grown acclimated to it. I do agree with London Calling above, that they could also be translated with abstract nouns (something English seems particularly fond of).

    What I find potentially problematic is the shift from “mereamur eripi” as “we may find rescue” to “[sc. mereamur] salvari” as “be found worthy of salvation”. Why drop the worthiness in the former clause?

    A possibility might be:

    Stir up Thy power, we pray, O Lord, and come,
    that we may merit to be rescued by Thy protection
    from the looming dangers of our sins,
    and to be saved through Thy liberation.

    (Having just said that, there are at least 3 problems I recognize in my own version. 1. Most people will object to the “Thy”s; I prefer them, but they could easily be replaced with “Your”s, if necessary. 2. “Thy liberation” could be a little awkward, since the natural thing to do in English is to take the adjective here as possessive/objective, with the implication that God has somehow been liberated. I’m not sure that there’s a way to render “te liberante” into an English abstract that doesn’t have this problem. 3. Possible neo-Pelagian misinterpretation of “merit”.)

  5. Patrick Rothwell says:

    This collect was a favorite of mine back in my Anglican days – though Cranmer et al made some changes from the Latin, including a couple of rather Protestant twists to it in the English Prayer Book. Here is the (rather loose) translation from the 1928 American Prayer Book – for the Fourth Sunday of Advent:

    O Lord, raise up, we pray thee, thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.”

    Here is the 1979 Prayer Book/Book of Divine Worship version – a bit more accurate, I think, to the Latin, though not quite as evocative as the first:

    “Stir up thy power, O Lord, and with great might come among us, and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost, he honor and glory, world without end. Amen.”

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